André Boisclair

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André Boisclair
André Boisclair debating.jpg
Boisclair debating in 2005
MNA for Pointe-aux-Trembles
In office
August 14, 2006 – November 15, 2007
Preceded by Nicole Léger
Succeeded by Nicole Leger
Minister of the Environment
In office
2002 – April 2003
Preceded by Paul Bégin
Succeeded by Thomas Mulcair
Personal details
Born (1966-04-14) April 14, 1966 (age 48)
Montreal, Quebec
Political party Parti Québécois
Residence Montreal
Profession Politician

André Boisclair (French pronunciation: ​[ɑ̃dʁe bwaklɛʁ]; born April 14, 1966 in Montreal, Quebec) is a politician in Quebec, Canada. He was the leader of the Parti Québécois, a social democratic and sovereigntist party in Quebec.

Between January 1996 and March 2003, Boisclair served as Citizenship and Immigration Minister and Social Solidarity Minister under former Premier of Quebec Lucien Bouchard and as Environment Minister under former Premier Bernard Landry. He won the Parti Québécois leadership election on November 15, 2005.

Boisclair announced he was stepping down as leader of the PQ on May 8, 2007.[1] François Gendron was named interim leader.

Early life[edit]

Boisclair grew up in the affluent francophone Montreal neighbourhood of Outremont. While attending Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, a private CEGEP, he became the president of the Federation of Quebec College Students (in French, FECQ). After graduation he attended Université de Montréal, but dropped out after two years.

Political scene 1989–2003[edit]

He joined the Parti Québécois in 1984, and in the 1989 general election he was elected to represent the Montreal-area riding of Gouin as a PQ candidate. At 23 years old, he became the youngest member ever elected to the Quebec National Assembly, a record he held until Simon-Pierre Diamond was elected in 2007. He also quickly garnered a reputation as a party animal in Quebec City's night-life scene.[2]

He served as a cabinet minister from 1998 to 2003, under Parti Québécois (PQ) Premiers Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry, holding a variety of high profile portfolios. During his time in office, Boisclair and his chief of staff, Luc Doray, became the center of a drug and embezzlement scandal. After a routine audit, officials discovered that Doray submitted over $30,000 in false expense reports and authorities later discovered that Doray had used the money to feed his cocaine habit.[3]

Doray plead guilty to defrauding the government and during court testimony it was learned that Boisclair authorized some of the expenses.[3][4] The ensuing investigation cleared Boisclair of any wrongdoing - he was never accused nor charged with any crime. However, in September 2005, Boisclair admitted to personally using cocaine between 1996 and 2003 while serving as a member of the Quebec legislature.

Boisclair continued to serve as a Member of the National Assembly until he resigned in August 2004 to attend the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. At the time of his resignation, Boisclair held the position of opposition parliamentary (house) leader. Boisclair completed the Master's in Public Administration program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government - a program that does not require students to hold a previous university degree. While at Harvard, Boisclair attended lectures by Michael Ignatieff and kept a blog recording his experience.

Party leadership[edit]

After Bernard Landry resigned in June 2005, Boisclair entered the race to succeed Landry as the PQ's leader. Elected as the sixth leader of the Parti Québécois on November 15, 2005, Boisclair earned 53.8% of the party membership vote as compared to his closest rival, Pauline Marois, who garnered 30.6%. For the first time, the PQ allowed telephone voting, resulting in the participation of over 76% of the party membership. Polls taken at the time of his leadership victory in November 2005 suggested that Boisclair's Parti Québécois would win a landslide victory over the incumbent Liberal Party of Jean Charest.

Boisclair was the first openly gay politician in Canada to win the leadership of a party with legislative representation. (Previous openly gay Canadian political party leaders included Chris Lea of the Green Party of Canada and Allison Brewer of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party.)

After his election as party leader, Boisclair delivered a speech promising a sovereignty referendum within two years of a PQ victory in the next Quebec general election. During a joint press conference with Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe in Montreal on November 20, 2005, Boisclair decried Canada's Clarity Act as unacceptable. He stated that if elected Premier, he would ignore the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada on referendum question clarity.

Upon taking the reins of the PQ, Boisclair's actions quickly created political controversy within his own party. After a questionable appearance in a comedy sketch featuring a homosexual depiction of Stephen Harper and George W. Bush, and an attempt to distance the PQ from its traditional union base, a push to oust Boisclair developed. Purportedly led by Boisclair's predecessor, Bernard Landry (which he denies), the plan failed and no real threat to Boisclair's leadership emerged. Pundits speculated that the proximity of the Quebec general election contributed to the putsch's failure.

On August 14, 2006, Boisclair was elected to the provincial legislative assembly in a by-election for the Montreal-area riding of Pointe-aux-Trembles. He was re-elected in the general election of March 26, 2007.

2007 election[edit]

In February 2007, Boisclair promised a dream team of high profile candidates for the anticipated 2007 general election. Comparing his slate to the l'équipe du tonnerre (the thunder team) of former premier and Quiet revolution architect Jean Lesage, Boiscair announced that actor Pierre Curzi, former cabinet member Linda Goupil, TV journalist Bernard Drainville, academic Guy Lachapelle, union leader Marc Laviolette, and former Bloc Québécois MPs Richard Marceau and Yvan Loubier composed this team. On February 21, 2007 the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, Lise Thibault, dissolved parliament and called a general election for March 26, 2007.

Boisclair launched his campaign using the slogan "Reconstruisons notre Québec" (Let's rebuild our Quebec). At the beginning of the campaign, Boisclair's Parti Québécois stood five percentage points behind the Quebec Liberals.

Boisclair stated throughout his campaign that education would remain a key priority in the PQ's election strategy and that he would organize a new referendum on sovereignty as soon as possible. He also supported new measures targeting home ownership for young families.

During the election campaign, controversy arose when radio talk show host Louis Champagne made homophobic remarks while interviewing Parti Québécois candidate Alexandre Cloutier, asking him if the fact that his party was led by a gay man — and was running an openly gay candidate, Sylvain Gaudreault, in the neighbouring riding to Cloutier's — meant that voters would believe the Parti Québécois was "a club of fags".[5] Days later, the radio station's corporate owner, the Corus Group, suspended Champagne.

Most observers ruled the 2007 leaders' debate a draw. Critics felt that Boisclair appeared the most aggressive, repeatedly asking the Action démocratique du Québec's (ADQ) Mario Dumont to state the financial model of his political platform.

Election night produced a major disappointment for the Parti Québécois. The party polled its smallest share of the popular vote since 1973 and the PQ came third in seat numbers in the National Assembly - losing Official Opposition status. The 2007 election left Quebec with its first minority government since 1878. Although Boisclair's future as the leader of Parti Québécois appeared uncertain, he claimed on the day after the election that he had no plans of stepping down (however, he resigned six weeks later).

Apart from the Champagne incident, the election campaign was not marked by any other open expressions of homophobia. However, at least one prominent political journalist in Quebec, The Gazette's Don Macpherson, has asserted that some other criticism of Boisclair — particularly a persistent notion among some voters that he was too cosmopolitan and "Montréalais" — may in fact have been code for lingering voter discomfort with the idea of electing an openly gay premier.[6]

Resignation as PQ Leader[edit]

André Boisclair announced his resignation as Parti Québécois leader on May 8, 2007, the same day Quebec's National Assembly was resuming sitting after the 2007 general election. The announcement came as a shock to many Parti Québécois caucus members, some of whom expressed "sadness" at the decision.[7]

Boisclair's leadership was questioned immediately after the election and petitions for a motion of confidence within the party came far and wide from regional PQ presidents and major sovereigntist groups.

Boisclair's resignation followed a dispute with Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québécois, the sovereigntist party on the federal scene. In an interview with Radio-Canada, Boisclair had confirmed rumours that Duceppe had been scheming for his post. Duceppe denied these rumours but many political observers still believed Boisclair had gone too far in this denunciation.[8]

Boisclair remained the MNA for Pointe-aux-Trembles, but on October 15, 2007, he announced he was resigning from his seat and quitting politics on November 15, 2007. He also accused leader Bernard Landry of undermining his support as party head by referring to the PQ's loss of public support under Boisclair's reign, and for hinting he wanted to return to the party's leadership himself.[9]

Post-political life[edit]

Boisclair was hired by Questerre, a Calgary-based energy company, in 2011 as a consultant due to his sociopolitical knowledge of Quebec.[10] In September 2012, Boisclair criticized the newly elected PQ government's position on the shale industry in Quebec.[11]

In November 2012, he was named as the new provincial delegate-general in New York City.[12]

See also[edit]

Electoral record[edit]

Quebec general election, 2007: Pointe-aux-Trembles
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
     Parti Québécois André Boisclair 13,784 47.30 -2.89
     Action démocratique Martin-Karl Bourbonnais 7,708 26.45 +12.20
Liberal Daniel Fournier 5,316 18.24 -14.94
Green Xavier Daxhelet 1,257 4.31 +2.70
     Québec Solidaire Dominique Ritchot 763 2.62
Bloc Pot Etienne Mallette 154 0.53
Christian Democracy Julien Ferron 116 0.40 -0.08
     Marxist-Leninist Geneviève Royer 41 0.14 -0.14
Total valid votes 29,139 98.69
Rejected and declined votes 388 1.31
Turnout 29,527 72.92 -0.62
Electors on the lists 40,495
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.


Quebec provincial by-election, August 14, 2006: Pointe-aux-Trembles
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
     Parti Québécois André Boisclair 9,077 70.95 +20.76
Green Xavier Daxhelet 1,514 11.83 +10.22
     Québec solidaire Dominique Ritchot 1,073 8.39
     Independent Benoît Bergeron 609 4.76
     Independent Jocelyne Leduc 231 1.81
     Independent Jean-Marc Boyer 124 0.97
Bloc Pot Benjamin Kasapoglu 113 0.88
     Independent Régent Millette 52 0.41
Total valid votes 12,793 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 315
Turnout 13,108 32.35 -39.95
Electors on the lists 40,516
Quebec general election, 2003
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Parti Québécois André Boisclair 15,890 53.34 +0.66
     Liberal William Aguilar 8,996 30.20 -2.42
     Action démocratique Stéphane Deschênes 2,456 8.24 -2.48
UFP Colette Provost 1,397 4.69 -
Green Pierrette Chevalier 584 1.96 -
     Bloc pot Hugô St-Onge 465 1.56 -


Quebec general election, 1998: Gouin
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
     Parti Québécois André Boisclair (incumbent) 16,097 52.68
Liberal Michelle Daines 10,273 33.62
     Action démocratique Patricia St-Jacques 3,276 10.72
     Socialist Democracy Geneviève Ricard 624 2.04
Marxist–Leninist Claude Brunelle 149 0.49
     Communist Athanasios Ntouskas 75 0.25
     N/A (Communist League) Annette Kouri 61 0.20
Total valid votes 30,555 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 450
Turnout 31,005 74.40
Electors on the lists 41,676
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.
Quebec general election, 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Parti Québécois André Boisclair 17,305 56.42 +5.39
     Liberal Athena Efraim 10,944 35.68 -4.80
     New Democrat Hans Marotte 1,428 4.66 +2.33
     Independent Sylviane Morin 458 1.49 -
     Natural Law Alain-Édouard Lord 263 0.86 -
     Marxist-Leninist Serge Lachapelle 142 0.46 +0.16
     Republic of Canada Pierre Aylwin 132 0.43 -
Quebec general election, 1989
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Parti Québécois André Boisclair 10,568 51.03 +2.57
     Liberal Normand Hamel 8,383 40.48 -4.86
Green Sylvain Auclair 929 4.49 -
     New Democrat Paul Montpetit 482 2.33 -0.54
     Workers Gilles Bourque 186 0.90 -
     Marxist-Leninist Michelle Dufort 63 0.30 -
     Communist Denis Gervais 52 0.25 -
Socialist Movement Yvan Comeau 46 0.22

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Boisclair quitting". 2007-05-08. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  2. ^ "André Boisclair: the PQ's young star". CBC News. 2005-11-16. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  3. ^ a b "Boisclair's skeletons rattle bitter PQ race". The Globe and Mail. 2005-11-09. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  4. ^ http://globeandmail.workopolis.com/servlet/Content/qprinter/20051109/BOISCLAIR09
  5. ^ "Boisclair responds to homophobic slurs", cbc.ca, March 1, 2007.
  6. ^ Don MacPherson, "The end of an error". The Gazette, October 16, 2007.
  7. ^ "Boisclair resigns as leader of Parti Québécois". CBC News. 2007-05-08. Retrieved 2024-04-02.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ "Clouds hang over Boisclair as legislature prepares to sit". CBC News. 2007-05-08. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  9. ^ "Boisclair leaving politics". The Montreal Gazette. 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  10. ^ "Questerre appoints André Boisclair as advisor to Board", questerre.com, September 16, 2011.
  11. ^ "Quebec Fracking Ban? PQ Eyes Banning Shale Gas, Shutting Nuclear Reactor, Ending Asbestos Industry". The Huffington Post Canada. September 20, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Former PQ leader André Boisclair named to New York post". The Gazette, November 7, 2012.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Pierre Paradis (Liberal)
Official Opposition House Leader
2003–2004
Succeeded by
Diane Lemieux (PQ)
Preceded by
Louise Harel (PQ) (Acting)
Leader of the Opposition (Quebec)
2006-2007
Succeeded by
Mario Dumont (ADQ)
Preceded by
Louise Harel (Acting)
Leader of the Parti Québécois
2005-2007
Succeeded by
François Gendron (Acting)